WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA)-- Lung cancer is on the cusp of surpassing breast cancer as the leading killer among women in Europe, according to new published research by the European Society for Medical Oncology.
While the number of cancer related deaths have decreased, lung cancer deaths are still on the rise, by 7%, among women in these countries since 2009.
Professor Carlo La Vecchia, MD, an author of the study says, "If these opposite trends in breast and lung cancer rates continue, then in 2015 lung cancer is going to become the first cause of cancer mortality in Europe. This is already true in the UK and Poland."
Since prevalent smoking in Europe has played a factor, Dr. La Vecchia is hopeful that in the future, the rates may level out.
"Fewer young women nowadays in the UK and elsewhere in Europe are smoking and, therefore, deaths from lung cancer may start to level off after 2020 at around 15 per 100,000 women," he said.
And it's not just European women who are paying the price for this deadly habit: lung cancer is already the chief cause of cancer death among men.
Pancreatic cancer, also caused by tobacco, is predicted as possibly rising in 2013. This study predicted 40,069 deaths in men and 40,197 deaths in women in 2013.
But researchers do foresee a decline in intestinal cancers, specifically colorectal cancers, for both genders. The main causes for this decline are better treatment options as well as early diagnosis.
Co-author, Professor Fabio Levi, MD says,"The key message for EU national governments from this study is tobacco control, particularly among middle-aged men and women. If more people could be helped and encouraged to give up smoking, or not take it up in the first place, hundreds of thousands of deaths from cancer could be avoided each year."
This years study is the third consecutive study published by the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) that predicts cancer deaths. ESMO's research seeks to influence policy within the EU that can help prevent cancer related deaths.